CA says ES&S sold uncertified machines, wants $10m fine

California secretary of state Debra Bowen accused Election Systems & Software (ES&S) of ripping off the state by selling five counties nearly 1,000 electronic-voting machines that were not certified, InfoWorld reports."Given that each machine costs about $5,000, it appears ES&S has taken $5 million out of the pockets of several California counties," Bowen said in a statement.

California secretary of state Debra Bowen accused Election Systems & Software (ES&S) of ripping off the state by selling five counties nearly 1,000 electronic-voting machines that were not certified, InfoWorld reports.

"Given that each machine costs about $5,000, it appears ES&S has taken $5 million out of the pockets of several California counties," Bowen said in a statement.

The company never even submitted its AutoMark Phase 2 Model A200 machine to the state for certification but that didn't stop it from selling 972 units to San Francisco, Colusa, Marin, Merced, and Solano counties. The model was eventually certified by federal officials after the sales took place.

Bowen wants the maximum penalty under law -- $10,000 per violation, or $9.7 million in this case. A public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Sept. 20.

"While ES&S may not like California law, I expect the company to follow the law and not trample over it by selling uncertified voting equipment in this state," Bowen said.

The law in question states that any voting machine used in an election must be state-certified. And vendors can't make modifications without the secretary of state's approval.

Earlier this month, Bowen mandated new security standards for the state's e-voting systems, following an independent review that slammed the security of the technology. ES&S machines were decertified because ES&S was late in providing access to their products.